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The Secret Benefits of Vitamin D

For many years, I've been saying you MUST optimize your vitamin D levels if you want to improve your health. Unfortunately, many Americans do not get enough vitamin D, largely because too many people still believe the broken rhetoric of so-called experts who have scared people so much they avoid all sun exposure. Up to now, we've assumed people were merely losing out on protecting their bones.

But that's changed thanks to a raft of recent studies from around the world that have revealed vitamin D's role in health is far more complex. More than just protecting bone, vitamin D is proving to preserve muscle strength and to give people protection against deadly diseases including multiple sclerosis (MS), diabetes and even cancer.

Interestingly enough, classifying vitamin D as a vitamin is a "misnomer," according to one bone specialist, because vitamin D, unlike others, is an essential element the body CAN manufacture on its own. In fact, humans can generate up to 12,000 international units (IU) of vitamin D from a half-hour of summer-sun exposure. Depending on the age, experts recommend people take in up to 600 IU of vitamin D each day.

The interest in vitamin D is so high these days, one Stanford University scientist, who believes it is a potent force in regulating cell growth, immunity, and energy metabolism, has edited a 1,300-page compilation of vitamin D research from more than 100 laboratories.

The results are truly eye-opening. Here's a sample:

  • In two ongoing studies of 187,500 U.S. nurses, women getting at least 400 IU of vitamin D per day showed only 60 percent the risk of developing MS compared with women getting less of the vitamin.
  • Women in their 80s who were given 800 IU of vitamin D in addition to 1,200 milligrams of calcium had better leg strength and were about half as prone to falls than those who took no vitamin D.

Science News Oct. 9, 2004; Vol. 166, No. 15

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